Washington, USA.- Astronomers have traced one of the most powerful and distant fast radio bursts ever discovered to its unusual cosmic origin: a strange “bubble”-shaped cluster of galaxies.
this The unexpected discovery could provide more knowledge about the causes behind mysterious bursts of radio waves Which has puzzled scientists for years.
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According to information from CNN The strong signal, known as FRB 20220610A, was first identified on June 10, 2022. It traveled a distance of 8 billion light years to reach Earth. A light year represents the distance light travels in one year, equal to 9.46 billion kilometers (5.88 billion miles).
the Fast radio bursts (FRB)) are short, intense bursts of radio waves, lasting milliseconds and whose source remains unknown. The first FRB was identified in 2007, and since then hundreds of these fleeting cosmic flashes have been observed from distant points in the universe.
The signal lasted less than a millisecond
This particular rapid radio explosion It lasted less than a millisecond, but was four times more energetic than previously detected fast radio bursts. The explosion released the equivalent of our sun's energy emissions over 30 years, according to a preliminary study published in October.
Many fast radio bursts emit extremely bright radio waves that last for a few milliseconds at most before disappearing, making them difficult to observe.
the Radio telescopes have proven useful in tracking the paths of fast cosmic flashesSo researchers used the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP, radio telescope, located in Western Australia, and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, to determine where the mysterious explosion originated.
sObservations led scientists to a giant celestial spot, Which was initially thought to be a single irregular galaxy or a group of three interacting galaxies.
now, Astronomers used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to reveal that the fast radio burst came from a cluster of at least seven galaxies so close together that they could all be placed within the Milky Way.
The results were presented on Tuesday at the committee's 243rd meeting American Astronomical Society in New Orleans.
An unusual galactic group
the The galaxies in the cluster appear to be interacting and may be mergingwhich could lead to a fast radio burst, according to the researchers.
“Without Hubble images, it remains a mystery whether this fast radio burst originated in a homogeneous galaxy or in some kind of interactive system,” he said in a statement. Alexa Gordon, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in astronomy at Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
“It's these kinds of environments — these exotic environments — that are pushing us toward a better understanding of the mystery of fast radio bursts.”
The galaxy cluster, known as the Compact Cluster, is exceptional and an example of “the densest galactic structures we know of,” the study's co-author said. Wen-Fei Fung, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University and Gordon's doctoral dissertation director.
When galaxies interact, they can trigger explosions of star formationGordon said it may be related to the explosion.
Fast radio bursts are detected mainly in Isolated galaxiesBut astronomers have also found them in globular clusters, and now in a compact group, Gordon explains.
“We need to keep finding more of these types of fast radio bursts, both near and far, and in all these types of environments,” he said.
They are investigating the origins of fast radio bursts
It has been detected Nearly a thousand fast radio bursts have occurred since their initial discovery about two decades agoBut astronomers are still not sure of its causes.
However, many agree that it is probably due to compact objects, e.g black holes or neutron stars, The dense remains of exploded stars. Magnetars, or stars with high magnetism, may be the culprit behind fast radio bursts, according to recent research.
Understanding the origin of fast radio bursts could help astronomers better determine what causes them to shoot across the universe.
“Although hundreds of FRB events have been detected so far, only a fraction of them have been identified with their host galaxies,” study co-author Yuexin Fic Dong said in a statement. “Within this small portion, only a few came from the dense galactic environment, but none of them have been seen in such a compact group. Therefore, their birthplace is truly rare.” Dong is a National Science Foundation graduate researcher and a doctoral student in astronomy in the Fung Lab at Northwestern University.
a Increasing knowledge of fast radio bursts could also lead to discoveries about the nature of the universe. As the jets travel through space for billions of years, they interact with cosmic matter
“Radio waves, in particular, are sensitive to any interfering material along the line of sight, from the location of the FRB to us,” Dong said. “This means that the waves must travel through any cloud of material around the location of the fast radio burst, through the host galaxy, through the universe and finally through the Milky Way. Through the delay in the FRB signal itself, we can measure the sum of all these contributions“.
the Astronomers envision increasingly sensitive methods for detecting fast radio bursts in the future, which could lead to more of them being detected at greater distances.Gordon pointed out.
“Ultimately, we're trying to answer the questions: What causes them? Who are their parents and what are their origins? Hubble's observations provide amazing insight into the amazing types of environments that give rise to these mysterious events,” said Fong.
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